Tapeworm 101: What You Need to Know About This Internal Parasite

Tapeworm 101
 
If you need another reason to protect your dog or cat from fleas, consider that this external parasite can transmit tapeworm that attach themselves to your pet’s intestines. Tapeworm is a unique parasite because it consists of multiple parts that each has its own reproductive system. Because they are so small, it can be hard for you to see them on your pet. When owners do spot tapeworm, it’s typically in the feces, on the rear end of the pet, or near where the animal sleeps. Tapeworm look like tiny grains of rice or seeds.
 
Types of Tapeworm 
Fleas are the most common carriers of tapeworm and attract a type known as dipylidium caninum. Your pet may also acquire tapeworm by eating a rodent or being bitten by one. Echinococcus and taenia use smaller rodents such as mice, rabbits, and squirrels as a host. They may also show up in sheep or deer. The best way to prevent the latter type of tapeworm is not to allow your dog or cat to eat any type of prey animal.
 
How Tapeworm Affects Companion Animals
According to the website Pets and Parasites, tapeworm produce few symptoms in dogs and cats. The most obvious signs are white specks in the feces and worm segments on the rear end. It’s only when your pet has numerous tapeworm that problems with weight loss and lethargy start to appear. Occasionally, a dog or cat may vomit a worm that has moved into the stomach. Unfortunately, it’s difficult to detect tapeworm in a routine fecal examination. If you think your pet has tapeworm, please contact Grantsburg Animal Hospital or Wild River Veterinary Clinic for a prompt evaluation.
 
Treating Tapeworm Infestation
This type of internal parasite is much easier to treat than many others, including heartworm. Treatment normally consists of a drug given orally or by injection that kills the tapeworm and causes it to dissolve in your pet’s intestines. It probably won’t show up in your pet’s stool because the worm is typically digested before it dies. Medication does not produce any unpleasant side effects for your pet.
 
Preventing your dog or cat from getting fleas and not allowing him or her to chew on animal carcasses is essential in preventing this internal parasite. We offer several varieties of flea prevention in our online store for your convenience. We encourage you to use these products year-round to prevent both fleas and tapeworm in your pet.

Our clinics carry Interceptor Plus, a monthly chewable for dogs that prevents heartworm disease.  It also treats and controls roundworms, hookworms, whipworms, and tapeworms.  We also have Drontal Plus Chewables for dogs for treatment and control of roundworms, hookworms, whipworms, and tapeworms.  For cats, we have Drontal tablets for treatment and control of tapeworms, hookworms, and roundworms.  We also have Profender for cats, a topical solution that treats and controls hookworm, roundworm, and tapeworm infections.

Photo Credit: Cranach / Getty Images

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March is National Pet Food Nutrition Month

National Pet Food Nutrition

The original purpose of National Nutrition Month was to promote the importance of nutrition for children and adults. Over the years, the veterinary industry has used the month of March to highlight the importance of healthy food choices for companion animals. The most important thing you can do for your dog, cat, or other pet’s long-term health is to select nutritious food, limit treats, and ensure that he gets plenty of exercise. 
 
People don’t always put a lot of thought into the food they buy for their pet. They may naturally choose the brand with the lowest price or pick up something at the most convenient store. However, some pets have special health issues such as joint problems or food sensitivities that require owners to consider their food more carefully. It’s also important to keep in mind that your pet’s nutritional needs change as she passes through each stage of life.
 
Evaluating Food for Your Dog
You may see the word premium on a dog food label and assume that it’s a higher quality than other dog foods. What you probably don’t know is that a dog food manufacturing company can call a product premium as long as it contains a minimum of one percent beef. We encourage you to look closer at pet food labels and have higher standards for the products you purchase. 
 
The healthiest diets for dogs have animal protein listed as the primary ingredient. If you notice grains, fruits, or vegetables, they should be in pure form and not processed. That is because processing these ingredients strips the food of nutrients and vitamins that your dog needs to maintain good health.
 
Evaluating Food for Your Cat
Cats also receive maximum nutritional benefit when an animal protein is the most plentiful ingredient in their food. Some cat owners try to avoid grain-based ingredients because they’re concerned about their cat maintaining a healthy weight. In this case, it’s important to note the carbohydrate content in your cat’s food. Anything containing vegetables or potatoes can have a high carbohydrate count. Small amounts of carbs are okay since your cat can easily convert them into energy.
 
All pet food should have a Guaranteed Analysis on its packaging. This symbol means that the food has met minimum requirements for protein, water, fat, and fiber. For cats, it’s especially important that the food contain fish oil.
 
Speak to Our Staff About Your Nutritional Concerns
Every pet has different nutritional needs based on age, species, lifestyle, general health, and other factors. The annual preventive care exam is an excellent time to go over your pet’s diet with Dr. Palmquist or another member of our staff. We also encourage you to schedule an appointment soon after bringing a new pet home to get off to a great start.

If your pet requires a special diet, keep in mind that we carry Royal Canin, Purina Pro, and other brands in our online store. We also carry the same brands as well as Taste of the Wild directly at Grantsburg Animal Hospital and Wild River Veterinary Clinic.

Photo Credit: Bluebeat76 / Getty Images

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February is National Pet Dental Health Month

National Pet Dental Health Month
 
The American Veterinary Medical Association (AMVA) started National Pet Dental Health Month several years ago as an initiative for pet owners to follow an at-home oral healthcare routine. It also hoped to underscore the importance of bringing companion animals to the veterinarian for a regular check-up and professional cleaning. 
 
The AMVA started this awareness campaign in response to the startling statistic that up to 80 percent of cats and dogs have at least a mild form of gum disease by age three. This causes bacteria to attack the gum tissue and can lead to tooth loss, infection, and numerous other serious health conditions. Gum disease, also called periodontal disease, starts when food debris and bacteria build up on tooth surfaces and eventually get underneath the gum tissues. If bacteria reach the bloodstream, it can cause problems with your pet’s kidneys, liver, or heart.
 
Most Common Signs of Periodontal Disease in Cats and Dogs
Persistent bad breath is one of the first signs that your pet could have an oral healthcare issue. Although this problem is extremely common, many pet owners don’t realize they should have their pet evaluated by a veterinarian because of it. We also encourage you to schedule an appointment at Grantsburg Animal Hospital or Wild River Veterinary Clinic if you notice loose or discolored teeth, reluctance to eat, difficulty chewing, or excess drooling.
 
You’re in good company if Dr. Palmquist diagnoses periodontal disease in your pet. According to the AVMA, it’s the most frequently diagnosed health condition among cats and dogs. He will work with you to find solutions for reversing your pet’s gum disease, such as daily toothbrushing, feeding your pet nutritious food, and returning to one of our clinics for regular follow-up appointments.
 
The Importance of a Consistent Oral Healthcare Routine at Home
Dental exams and cleanings performed by a veterinarian are important, but they can’t replace the care your pet receives at home. We find that many people avoid brushing their dog or cat’s teeth because they’re afraid of their pet becoming aggressive. While your fear is understandable, keep in mind that pets love to please their owners and should eventually come to accept toothbrushing if you remain consistent in your approach and expectations.
 
If you have never brushed your pet’s teeth before, it’s important to start small. Try placing a small amount of toothpaste on a treat and allow him to lick it off to experience the taste. If that goes okay, approach your pet when he’s calm and massage his jaws to get him to open his mouth. Place the toothbrush in his mouth, but don’t start brushing yet. That can wait until he tolerates you placing something in his mouth. Start by doing just the front teeth and then work your way up to brushing all the teeth for a full two minutes.
 
Be sure to give your pet lots of praise and affection for any amount of cooperation. However, don’t reward her with treats beyond the first session. Giving her a treat each time will defeat the purpose of daily toothbrushing in the first place. Please let us know if you have additional questions or would like a demonstration of toothbrushing at your pet’s next preventive care exam.
 
Photo Credit: photodeti / Getty Images

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Preventive Care Exams for Dogs and Cats

Preventive Care Exams 
 
You wouldn’t go years without going to the doctor for a check-up, yet many pet owners only visit a veterinarian when their dog or cat requires immediate treatment for an illness or injury. Lack of time, money, the stress of transporting a pet, and not understanding the benefits of preventive care are the most common reasons for this. While understandable, routine veterinary care plays an essential role in your pet’s health and longevity. 
 
If you don’t already do so, we encourage you to schedule a preventive care exam at least once a year for your adult pets. Senior pets over age seven should come in bi-annually while puppies and kittens need several appointments during their first year to get started with vaccines. Dr. Palmquist assesses older dogs and cats for issues such as cancer, diabetes, arthritis, and kidney disease that are more common as pets age. This is just part of a routine preventive care exam at Grantsburg Animal Hospital or Wild River Veterinary Clinic. 
 
A Typical Check-Up for Dogs and Cats
Your pet must receive a series of core vaccinations to comply with local laws. Dogs need distemper, rabies, parvovirus, and adenovirus while cats require calicivirus, rabies, panleukopenia, and rhinotracheitis. In addition to these core vaccines, Dr. Palmquist will speak to you about non-core vaccines that might be appropriate for your pet based on her unique risk factors. For example, many pet owners choose to get a Lyme disease vaccination because the condition is more common here in the Midwest. After giving your pet a vaccine, Dr. Palmquist establishes a schedule for her to get boosters.
 
Parasite control is equally important to vaccinations. Left untreated, some parasites can kill your pet. Heartworm is a prime example of this. Dr. Palmquist will check your pet for parasites and ask what you use for prevention. We offer heartworm and flea and tick medication in our online store if you need a product recommendation. 
 
We encourage you to bring up any concerns you have about your pet’s behavior, diet, activity level, sleeping habits, or health problems at this visit. Dr. Palmquist will provide you with resources and suggestions for resolving the issue that you might not have considered. He will also complete a full-body inspection on your pet. This includes checking his teeth, ears, nose, eyes, skin, legs, paws, reproductive organs, and stomach for abnormalities.
 
Follow-Up Expectations
Dr. Palmquist orders bloodwork, X-rays, or additional tests if he finds any areas of concern during your pet’s exam. He will contact you within a few days after receiving the results of the tests. Some situations only require careful observation while others require your pet to receive additional treatment. Preventive care exams allow him to find health issues that might have gone undetected otherwise.

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